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Blueberry: Types and Varieties

Blueberry cluster on bush1

Blueberries ripeningBlueberries on cereal. Blueberries with cream and sugar. Blueberries on vanilla ice cream. A handful of blueberries.

Try this: Place fresh, chilled blueberries in a meringue shell and top with whipped cream.

Blueberry season in the north stretches from early summer through late summer. (The season in the south is much shorter—late spring through early summer.)

Blueberries are native to North America. However, variations on the blueberry—the bilberry, is the chief example—grow in Europe and Asia. In all, there are nearly 150 varieties of blueberry and bilberry although not all of them are edible.

When it comes to fresh picking and eating, there are about 30 varieties of blueberry worthy of your attention. These can be divided into three categories: the lowbush, the highbush, and the rabbiteye.

blueberry clusters
Fresh Organic Blueberries on the bush. close up

Lowbush Blueberries

Lowbush blueberry varieties stand 15-46 centimeters (6-18 inches) tall and produce small berries with intense flavor. These blueberries grow wild from Minnesota to Maine and in the Maritime Provinces of Canada—Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. Not surprisingly, you will find these sold at the market as “wild blueberries.”

Rabbiteye Blueberries

Rabbiteye blueberries are most common in the southern and southeastern states of the United States. These plants can grow to 1.8 meters (6 feet) tall and their harvest comes mostly during late spring and early summer.

Highbush Blueberries

Highbush blueberries are the most common blueberries. These are the large, plump, and sweet berries with which you are most familiar.

Highbush blueberries grow from 0.9 to 1.8 meters (3 to 6 feet) tall and are grown where there is acid soil and where they can benefit from a chilly winter that brings on dormancy which, in turn, enhances growth and bloom in the spring. Highbush blueberry country includes Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia.

Picking Blueberries

When picking blueberries, choose berries that are firm, full-colored deep purple-blue to blue-black with slight silver frosting. Blueberries that are green or reddish in color are not ripe. Avoid overripe blueberries as well: they will be soft or watery, or the bottom of their baskets will be stained with juice.

Also of interest:

How to Plant, Grow, Prune, and Harvest Blueberries

Easy to Grow Blueberries

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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